It'll be dark at 8pm so if you're planning to head for the fells then I guess you'll be limited to about an hour's walk... if that. Flashing a torch around within an hour's walk of Windermere station might draw attention to yourself. You might go 'stealth mode' with a red light, which is a lot less obvious even if someone is looking in your direction. It's all farmland near Windermere and the nearest tiny 'fells' are Orrest Head and School Knott. I've no idea what night-time traffic is like on those, but they're both within dog-walking distance of Windermere, so you could be spotted at some point. If you're prepared to walk along the Garburn Road, that would get you closer to 'proper' wild camping spots, but you might not be pitching your tent until 10pm.
Buses out of Windermere, heading to Ambleside and Grasmere, depart at 1950 and 2220, but I guess those don't really help you to get any closer to decent wind camping spots.
I have walked all sorts of paths and tracks on the outskirts of Windermere in the dark... before sunrise and after sunset... but I've never wild-camped close to town. The closest I've wild-camped is almost on top of Thornthwaite Crag. In fact, I camped two consecutive nights up there many years ago, and during the day-time, packed everything away and hid it in a snow-drift while I yomped 15 miles round the fells!
Kirkstone Pass is about 4 miles north of Windermere - Sykeside (Brotherswater) is no more than a couple miles further on towards Ullswater - great all-year site which has a great pub which also does breakfast. There are options for sleeping rough near Windermere. One I've used is the 'pavillions' in Bowness in the park opposite where the boats moor. They are roofed with a long bench on each side so you can always get shelter - no need for bivvy bag. I've dossed in Ambleside but the spot is now gone - used to be a large kids slide in the park that was enclosed like a tower at the top you could kip in then down the slide in the morning! There are benches in the park but uncovered so you'd need a bivvy.
I'd go to Sykeside these days!
Bedouin wrote (see)
Thanks Rosswm.... I've absolutely no knowledge of the area whatsoever so any advice is good. Will Google! Cheers
it's probably not a good idea to arrive in the dark in an area you have no knowledge of.
Why not the night train to Carlisle then the first train to Ravenglass or bus to Keswick.
He may not know Carlisle?
It's great arriving somewhere you don't know in the dark & waking up to somewhere new in the morning. Needs a bit more planning to be comfortable with it & is why I have recommended the taxi - no timetable to stick too & Sykeside will be open. The only contingency I'd be prepared for with my plan is the Kirkstone Pass being closed by snow in which case I'd stay in Windermere overnight - rough or b&b & head north over Orrest Head for a round of the fells around High Street
There are no buses to Sykeside in the winter. The closest you can get is Patterdale, but then you'd have to get the train to Penrith to link with that bus, and you'd have to stay overnight in Penrith and get the bus the following morning.
The taxi option might be best. Taxis park opposite the railway station at Windermere, and Kirkstone Pass would be the closest, easily accessible spot for a wild camp. Pretty awful place to be if the weather is bad though... in which case talk to the pub folk about B&B!
Edited to add...
If you do set your heart on Sykeside, and it's likely that Kirkstone will be snow-bound, or you think you might not be able to find a taxi driver brave enough to cross it... then stay on the train to Penrith and get a taxi from the station to Patterdale and Sykeside. (The last bs from Penrith to Patterdale is at 1600, so that's no use to you.)
The sleeper arrives in Carlisle at 05.15, perfect for the first train to Ravenglass or first bus to Keswick.
Personally i'd go to Scotland.
Bit of a long shot, Bedderz, but if you can afford the taxi fare (Google Windermere taxi firms to get a quote) you could book a taxi from Windermere station to the National Trust's all-year-round campsite at Great Langdale. It's a cracking base for walking - you're right under Lingmoor Fell, the Langdale Pikes are just across the valley, and Crinkle Crags, Bowfell and the high route to Esk Hause and onward to the Scafells is easily accessible.
You wouldn't need to taxi both ways - if your return journey was earlier in the day there is a bus from Great Langdale (picks up at ODG and NDG hotels) to Ambleside then another bus to Windermere. (Hourly IIRC in summer but Google for winter timetable.)
But, as Addick says, maybe you could do the first night in a B&B (loads in Windermere) then bus out to Gt Langdale in the morning?
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